When Your Shower Becomes a Bath

I’ll admit to it, I can go quite a while in a semi-gross bathroom situation before doing anything about it. For some reason, I feel as though even though I may be standing in a filthy bathtub, as long as I’m getting clean it’s fine, right?  Well, apparently even I have a breaking point. The fact is, even if you clean your tub semi-regularly, if you don’t clean your drain then eventually the water will drain more slowly, thus making it easier for buildup and hair to stick to the sides of your tub once the water has eventually drained (like 30 minutes later). You may notice just a little standing water at first, and then before you know it’s halfway up your shins and you just feel like the grossest/laziest/most complacent person that ever was.

I will spare you the photos for this post, mostly because I am legitimately embarrassed that things got so bad, and also because it’s just gross and while an impressive before and after, it’s not worth the heartache of actually having to see how the sausage is made.

I started by cleaning the tub using a variation of the recipe from the Scrubbing Troubles post. Once the tub was clean I got to work on the drain. There are a few factors that make this drain particularly difficult. 1. It has an extremely shallow basin directly under the tub and then slopes under at this really unfortunate angle, meaning that everything sort of sits right under the drain, and slowly makes its way down into the abyss where it becomes impossible to snake out due to its angles. 2. The shower is shared by three humans and a dog with varying hair/fur length, so there is a lot of potential for clogged-ness.

I feel like an asshole for what I’m about to say, only because I feel like a broken record sometimes with these posts. HOWEVER, guess what unclogs drains? If you guessed baking soda and vinegar, you would be right. Ugh, I know guys, but really, it’s just magical.

Let’s examine the alternative though for a moment. There are three types of chemical drain cleaners:

  • Caustic Drain Cleaners: Work using lye and caustic potash. They essentially lend electrons to your clogs and the hydroxide ions in the chemicals create heat and turn clogs into a soap-like substance that becomes easier to dissolve. Probably mostly used for kitchen sink drains where your buildups are of the greasy variety.
  • Oxidizing Drain Cleaners: Contain chemicals such as bleach, peroxides and nitrates. The chemicals react with the organic materials in the clog, causing them to loose electrons and oxidize.
  • Acid Drain Cleaners: The heavy-duty shit, mostly only used by trained plumbing professionals. Contain high levels of sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. Hydronium ions react with the clog, and attract electrons which releases heat, which then like obliterates anything in it’s path.

So now let’s examine what that means for you and your pipes:

Since most of these products generate heat they may damage older, metal pipes. Which if you live in New York and are of limited means like we are, are the only kind of pipes you get. If you live in a more modern setup, you are likely to have PVC pipes, which the reaction from the chemicals can soften and damage over time.

If these products can like, MELT PLASTIC and shit it’s probably safe to assume they aren’t great for you or the Earth. See label. I’m sorry label; did you imply that you can cause EXPLOSIONS, and that you want me to wear an encapsulated chemical suit to clean my tub?

{um, no thanks}

{cool story, label}

No thanks. I’ll stick with the natural shit. Baking soda and vinegar create a chemical reaction when mixed together as well, by creating carbon dioxide bubbles as it fizzes up, it likely loosens up whatever is desperately clinging to your drains.

Now I didn’t simply pack my drain with baking soda and vinegar and expect it to evaporate all of the shit that is down there. There was quite a bit of hair that could be pulled up, and when I say quite a bit, what I mean is that I almost vomited in my mouth. What couldn’t be pulled out was likely loosened and flushed down with the baking soda and vinegar.

I used:

  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • ½ Cup White Vinegar

First I packed as much of the baking soda as I could into the drain, trying to leave room for the vinegar to escape through it a bit so that it moved down the drain and didn’t just sit there. I then poured the vinegar over the baking soda and immediately covered the drain. I left it to sit for about 30 minutes, flushed it out with hot water for two minutes. AND VOILA! Showers are showers again.

Cleaning your tub drain is not a pretty job, but somebody has got to do it. Hopefully you feel emboldened to tackle that drain naturally, whilst being confident that you will not melt your skin, clothes, and/or brain using volatile chemicals.

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